Dead Man's Statutes
State RULES OF EVIDENCE that make the oral statements of a decedent inadmissible in a civil lawsuit against the executor or administrator of the decedent's estate when presented by persons to bolster their claims against the estate.
Dead man's statutes are designed to protect the estate of a deceased person from fraudulent claims made by a person who had engaged in transactions with the decedent. These laws do not permit the claimant to testify as to what terms a decedent verbally accepted, since the decedent is unable to testify and give his or her version of the transaction.
Such statutes are derived from common-law principles that disqualified witnesses from testifying in an action if they would be affected by the outcome of the case. Many states admit such testimony as evidence under specific statutory conditions, such as if the decedent's statements can be corroborated by the testimony of other disinterested witnesses.
The FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE govern the use of oral statements made by decedents in federal cases.